Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 75
CONNECTING THE DOTS OF SCRIPTURE – PART 20
Genesis – Revelation
Okay, it’s good to see everybody back for program number four this afternoon. We’re in Book number 75. I don’t know where we’re going to stop with our tapings. People are writing and asking how long are we going to go? Well, I don’t know. I threatened to quit a couple of years ago, but we had our minds changed. Okay, we’re going to move right on now to Acts chapter 9. In our last program we had the stoning of Stephen, which I call the epitome, or the crescendo, of Israel’s rejection. It was just like they came to the end of an orchestra piece and just screamed, “We will not have this Jesus of Nazareth ruling over us!”
At the same moment, we’re introduced to the next major player on Scripture’s stage, and that is Saul of Tarsus. So we’re going to go right over to chapter 9 for this half hour and look at the conversion of this religious, fanatic, zealous Jew. He had to completely turn a full flip-flop, if ever there was one. From one who was so steeped in Judaism, to one who would now proclaim to us in this Age of Grace, you’re not under the law, you’re under grace.
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples (or these Jewish believers) of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2. And desired (or asked) of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, (That believed that Jesus was the Christ, or what we call the Kingdom Gospel.) whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.” I mean the guy was heartless.
“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined around about him a light from (Where?) heaven:” Now you know, it’s amazing what people are saying anymore today.
Somebody sent me an article (I don’t even remember what part of the country it was from) where this preacher was saying that the only people that ever went to heaven were Elijah and Enoch. Imagine? He said nobody knows what heaven is. They don’t know where it’s at.
Well, here’s just an example. In Acts chapter 1 at the ascension, where in the world does Scripture say Jesus went? He went into heaven. And where does it say He’s coming from? From heaven. All of Scripture is pointing to the fact that heaven is a real place. And they can’t see that?
But here again, this light came from heaven. Where’d it come from? The right? The left? From underneath? Where’d it come from? Above. So what do we take from that? When we go up to heaven, we don’t go horizontal, we go up. And that’s good enough for me. That’s enough. Heaven is up there someplace. It’s a literal, visible, physical place to which we are going and from which Christ has come. All right, now we’ve got Saul of Tarsus raging, I always say, like a bull. He can’t get to Damascus fast enough so he can arrest these Jews who had embraced Jesus of Nazareth and take them bound back to Jerusalem, so he can put them on trial and hopefully put them to death.
Now I made a comment on the program way, way back. I don’t remember when it was, or where it was. Maybe you’ve heard it lately, I don’t know. Nothing brings out the wickedness in people like religion. Just look at the world today. In the name of religion they can drive a suicide bomb into a marketplace and blow people to smithereens in the name of their religion.
Well, the Muslims aren’t the first. It’s always been that way. Religions will cause people to do barbaric things. Well, Paul, or Saul of Tarsus, was no different. Now before I even start, so that you’ll see where this man came from, let’s go ahead to chapter 26. Here he’s rehearsing this lifestyle that we’re looking at on his road to Damascus.
“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints (That is those believing Jews.) did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; (He was working hand and glove with the religious leaders.) and when they (these believers) were put to death, I gave my vote against them.” That’s where I get the idea that he was a member of the Sanhedrin.
“And I punished them often in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; (And I feel that was using torture.) and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. 12. Whereupon as I went to Damascus…” That was the life of Saul of Tarsus, the religious nut.
All right, come back with me now to Acts chapter 9. We want to move on quickly if we possibly can, because most of you have heard me teach this over and over and over. This light from heaven in verses 3 and 4 had such an impact on him that he fell to the earth. Whether he was afoot, or whether he was on horseback, it doesn’t make any difference. He’s prostrate on the ground.
“And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5. And he said, (Saul said) Who art thou, Lord?…” Now, my marginal Bible says Jehovah. I agree with that a hundred percent. Because for a good religious Jew who did not like to even mouth the word Jehovah, Lord was the substitute. So in reality, whether he said it or not in his heart, he was saying—Who are you Jehovah? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
“…And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the goads.” Now then, the immediate response when he heard he was dealing with Jehovah and Jesus, one and the same, was that the man melted like butter on a hot afternoon. He just literally melted there on the road out in front of Damascus.
“And he trembling and astonished…” What astonished him? That the One he’d been persecuting was the same One he was worshipping. They were one and the same and all of a sudden it struck home. I don’t think any of us can get the impact of that. That here he had been actually putting people to death for embracing Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, but He was also the Jehovah of the Old Testament. And it hit him that the One he hated was the same One he thought he was serving.
“And he trembling and astonished (In an immediate conversion, an immediate recognizing of how wrong he had been.) said, Lord, what would you have me to do? And the Lord said, Arise, and go into the city, (Damascus) and it shall be told to thee what thou must do.” All right, now you know the rest. He comes into the city and this religious, this believing Jew Ananias who has become an embracer, as well, of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, is the go-between. He’s the one that God has designated—you go and you find Saul of Tarsus, and this is what you’re going to tell him. Now verse 15:
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: (That is to Ananias who was scared to death of this adversary of these believing Jews, not knowing that he had been converted out at the city gate. The Lord says to Ananias, go thy way.) for he (Saul of Tarsus) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles,…” Now I pointed this out, I think, in one of the previous programs. All of a sudden you have a complete change in the modus operandi.
Back in the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry, you remember, He told the Twelve, “Go not into the way of a Gentile, go only to the lost sheep of Israel.” To this man He is not saying, go not to Israel, but He is saying (the emphasis now) you go to the Gentiles. It is a complete change.
In fact, as I was mulling this over this last week, I thought of something. I’m going to just throw it out just for something to think about. When God called Abraham, or Abram, out of the Ur of the Chaldees, he, too, started something totally, totally different in dealing with the human race. So now I’m going to set two biblical pillars: Abraham, the pillar of the beginning of the nation of Israel—God’s earthly people. Here in chapter 9 we’ve got the second pillar, the Apostle Paul going to the Gentiles, calling out the Body of Christ. Which is not earthly, it’s what? Heavenly.
Now use that as an example. Abraham, the pillar at the beginning of Israel and Paul is the pillar that gives the sign for the beginning of the Body of Christ. All right, now as you come on down, I want to bring you all the way down to verse 20. Before we read it, I’m going to make the point. I’m going to have the fellows show on the screen what just came to me yesterday, just in time for this, from one of my listeners off the internet. It’s a statement from the founder of the Dallas Theological Seminary, Lewis Sperry Chafer. As we read it after a bit, and the guys put it on the screen, I want you to see how identical it is with the words that I’ve been teaching for the last fifteen years. All right, here it is. Verse 20 and then we’ll come back to Lewis Sperry Chafer’s statement.
“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” Period. What does Paul not yet understand? That it’s the cross that is going to be the point of salvation. By preaching just that Christ is the Son of God, He’s still on Kingdom ground.
Now it stands to reason, how could he preach something that God had never yet revealed? And He hasn’t revealed it. He won’t until Paul begins his three years of hiatus in the desert with Him. So Paul has to be saved unto the same economy that’s been all through the Book of Acts—the Kingdom Gospel that proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ. That’s his point, see. That’s his point. “Straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues.” Not that He died for the sins of the world and rose again, as we must believe in this Age of Grace, but that He is the Son of God. Period! That’s the Kingdom Gospel.
All right, now if the guys can put it on the screen for me, this statement that I have from Lewis Sperry Chafer. It was up on the Internet, and I hope that’s all the credit I have to give to it. I don’t want to do anything contrary to the law, but I’m going to read what this gentleman who was, remember, the president of Dallas Theological Seminary—Kingdom Gospel versus Grace Gospel. Strong objection is offered by coming-up theologians to a distinction between the Gospel of the Kingdom as preached by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the disciples and the Pauline Gospel of the Grace of God.
One covenant theologian states that to make such a distinction is unfortunate and dangerous. Well, that’s the kind of calls and letters I get. How can you possibly preach two Gospels? Well, they don’t understand. We’re not saying there are two Gospels today. But back here in the beginning of everything from Christ’s earthly ministry until we get to Paul, it was the Gospel of the Kingdom—that Jesus was the Christ! Not a word about death, burial, and resurrection. But as soon as you get into Paul’s Gospel, what is it?
How that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead.
All right, now Dr. Chafer says this: “He with others contends that the Kingdom Gospel is identical with the Gospel of Divine Grace. Here, nevertheless, will arise an absurdity which does not deter this type of theologian, namely that men could preach the Pauline Grace Gospel based, that is, on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ when they did not believe Christ would die or be raised from the dead.”
Isn’t that what I’ve always said? Luke 18, you remember when Jesus told the twelve:
“We go up to Jerusalem and everything that’s been written by the prophets shall be accomplished, the Son of man shall be tortured and persecuted, and he will be put to death, and on the third day he shall rise again?” But what’s the next verse say? “And they (the Twelve) understood none of these things, because God hid it from them,”
They weren’t supposed to understand. I always have to come right back with common sense. If these men knew that Christ was going to die and be raised from the dead, which they’d have to know if they preach Paul’s Gospel, then why weren’t they outside the tomb on resurrection morning? Why did they have such a hard time believing that He had actually been raised from the dead? John 20 makes it as plain as day. “For as yet they, Peter and John, knew not the scripture that he must rise from the dead.”
Well, then how in the world could they be preaching it, if they didn’t know it? Well, that’s exactly what Dr. Chafer said, and I just loved it. I said, man, if people think I’m some nut, and I do, I hear it. I’m some nut coming out of the woodwork with this. No, this is the truth of Scripture. When Jesus, John the Baptist, and the Twelve begin preaching, it’s only that Jesus was the promised Messiah and He had come to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies.
There’s nothing about death, burial, and resurrection in that. Nobody knew that that’s what was going to happen. Now when Paul comes on the scene, as he says in Corinthians, we preach Christ what? “Crucified and risen from the dead.” That’s his message. And you can’t see the difference between that? My, there’s something wrong. Oh, that’s a vast difference. Plus the Kingdom Gospel was preached to Israel in view of all the Old Testament covenants.
Paul’s Gospel is going to the whole human race, as we said in the last program or two, not to bring in the whole, but to call out “some.” When the Body of Christ has been called out and is filled and completed, we have to get out of here so that God can finish His dealing with Israel. That’s why I am so adamantly Pre-tribulation Rapture. We won’t fit in those seven years of tribulation. That’s God dealing with Israel again!
So anyway, now we can come back to our text. I hope that got on the screen where people can read it, and they can see that men far greater than I have said the same identical thing. Whoever sent it, if you’re listening, I thank you; because I’d have probably never ever found it.
All right, now back to Acts chapter 9 in the few minutes we have left, verse 20 again.
“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” Paul preached Christ. That is the Messiah-ship, as that’s what Christ means.
“But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he who destroyed them who called on this name in Jerusalem, (Isn’t this the same guy? Yeah, but he’s been saved. He’s had a conversion experience. And then they went on to say–) and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 22. But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus,…”
Do you remember how that experience on the road to Damascus decimated him? I think he came out of that experience not only blind, but he was dehydrated. I think he was a physical wreck. I mean it was more than just a casual experience. All right, so “he increased the more in strength and confounded the Jews,” because that’s the only ones he was dealing with. He wasn’t trying to win Gentiles, yet. He hasn’t been told that he’s going go to the Gentiles. That’s just Ananias who knows that. So he is still dealing with the Jews in the Damascus synagogues.
“…proving that this is the very Christ.” In other words, this Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the promised Messiah. That’s what they were to believe, and even Saul of Tarsus couldn’t convince many. All right, verse 23.
“And after that many days (A couple or three weeks, I don’t know, but after many days.) were fulfilled, the Jews (The orthodox Jews that he would have been a part of. Seeing that he had turn-coated on them, they–) took counsel to kill him: 24. But their laying await was known of Saul. (Saul found out somehow or other.) And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.” There’s only one escape. They’ll have to get him out of the city. So his fellow-believing Jews, like Ananias, helped him escape.
“Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.” That was his escape mechanism out of Damascus.
All right, now the Scripture just drops us there. The next thing we see in verse 26 is maybe three or four years later, when he’s come back from this Damascus experience to Jerusalem. So we don’t go on, but rather we’ve got to go over to where the Scripture picks that up. And that would be in Galatians chapter 1. And again, a portion that I know I’ve taught over and over, but I never get tired of it. I hope no one else does. And here Paul is now writing to Gentile churches many years later. Let’s see, that’s probably thirty seven—about fourteen years later Paul is writing this letter to the Galatians. Sometimes my math slips.
This is the very beginning of this change of operation between God and the human race. Instead of dealing with Israel on covenant ground under the Law of Moses, we are now dealing primarily with the Gentiles, but Jews included as well, under this whole new program that is never, ever hinted at anywhere else in Scripture. All right verse 11.
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it (by other men), but by the revelation (or revealing from) of Jesus Christ.” And where’s Jesus Christ? In glory.
All right, now before we go any further, most of you know this, but there’s some out there that may not have ever heard it. Because I said it before and I’ll say it again, every tract that comes through our office never uses these four verses we find in I Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul’s Gospel of salvation. And it’s just amazing that so few, I won’t say nobody, but so few use it. I can’t understand it, because there is no other portion of Scripture that so simply explains what we in the Body of Christ must believe for salvation.
I Corinthians 15:1
“Moreover, brethren, (He’s writing to believing Gentiles over there in Corinth in Greece.) I declare unto you the gospel (not a gospel, but rather the gospel) which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand.” In other words, they had now been brought out of paganism and are standing in this glorious Gospel of salvation, and the power of the Holy Spirit is keeping them from falling back into paganism.
I Corinthians 15:2a
“By which also ye are saved,…” See how plain this is? This is the Gospel that saves us today—not taking Jesus into your heart, not believing that He’s the Messiah, not believing a lot of other things that are being thrown at us. It’s believing this Gospel that saves lost people.
I Corinthians 15:2
“By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” In other words, you understand what I am preaching. Now the next two verses are the Gospel plain and simple.
I Corinthians 15:3a
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received,…” Now see, that’s why I called Acts chapter 9 the pillar for the Body of Christ, as Abraham was the pillar for Israel. That’s why this Apostle is the pillar now for the Body of Christ, the pillar on which it rests.
I Corinthians 15:3-4
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, (from the ascended Lord, remember) how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” That’s Paul’s Gospel that we must believe for salvation.
Now that never elevates Paul. Like he told the Corinthians, he said, I didn’t die for you. But Paul is the designated Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). All right, now let’s finish our few moments back in Galatians chapter 1 where he rehearses his salvation and his designation as the Apostle of the Gentile. All right, verse 13:
“For ye have heard of my conversation (or my manner of living) in time past in the Jews’ religion,…” Paul profited in the Jews’ religion. He was one of the big wheels in Judaism.
“…above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my father.” Like I said earlier, he was a religious nut. He was a zealot, all in the name of his religion. Verse 15.
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16. To reveal his Son in me, (as the designated apostle to the Gentiles) that I might preach him among the heathen; (The Gentiles, see that?) immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them who were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia,…”
All right, now in the fifty-two seconds we’ve got left, I always make this simple illustration. Here you’ve got this religious Jew who has been raised and lived most of his life in the land of Israel. He knew all about Christ’s earthly ministry. He knew who those twelve apostles were, don’t think he didn’t. What would have been the logical thing to do? Well, go back to Jerusalem, look them up, and say “Look, fellas, tell me everything you know. God has called me but I don’t know.”
But God wouldn’t let him do that. God forbade Paul, or Saul, to have any contact with those twelve men. Now just think about that! Why? Because of God’s own purposes. He was not going to let those twelve men influence His other apostle, because He now has a new salvation message for mankind that Jew and Gentile must all believe.